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General Elections: Why N5bn Imo Funds Were Seized – EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) froze N5bn funds owned by the government of Imo State on the reason that the outgoing governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha was spending too much money in a suspicious manner during the general elections.

This position was made known by the Commission's Zonal Head for South-East, Usman Imam, while fielding questions from journalists.

Imam equally argued that N8bn Paris Club loan refunded to the state for the payment of salaries was mismanaged by Okorocha.

The Commission's Zonal Head suggested that the timely intervention of the anti-graft agency saved the state over N5bn that would have been deployed in vote buying by the Okorocha’s administration during the last elections.

Specifically, the Commission maintained that about N8bn from the Paris Club Refund bailout, meant for payment of workers’ salaries was kept by the government, only to begin spending it frivolously on the eve of the elections.

Imam said, “About N7.9bn is what had been blocked, although with pressure, subsequently, about N2.5bn was released for salaries.

“On the whole, we have over N5bn of those funds blocked; we are following up to see what actually happened.

“Honestly, what we discovered was that within two days, N700m was withdrawn in cash; N200m on the first day and N500m on the second day and all these monies were disbursed in a manner that was honestly unpalatable.

“Distribution to school teachers; I don’t know, schools that you were not funding and you woke up on the eve of the election and withdrew N500m cash and start distributing N1000 each or so to teachers. Whatever that means, I don’t know.

“When we came in, we were able to save about seventy something million of the funds that we discovered were not disbursed, we also blocked it. 

“People are still answering questions as to who asked them to move those monies, monies that were blocked at the banks.”

Imam said it was unfortunate the funds in question were meant for the payment of salaries and pensions which remained unpaid.

“The sad story about this was that these monies were the intervention funds; the bailout funds that the Federal Government released to states to pay salaries when they were having problems paying salaries.

“They didn’t utilise that money to pay the salaries; they warehoused it and kept it until the election period, they started attempting to draw down the money. 

“Whatever happens, we have saved over N5bn of that money, as we talk, two weeks to handover. 

“Probably, the next government would have that money to use it better.

“There are a lot of other general investigations going on in Imo right now.”

It would be recalled that the anti-graft agency had arrested the Accountant-General of Imo State, Uzoho Casmir, for allegedly helping Okorocha, to launder N1.05bn for the governorship and assembly elections.

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